Figaro, Figaro, Figaro! Your favorite barber is back!

The Barber of Seville-Some interesting background information

October 22, 2018

Lana Mullen, Communications Coordinator
(941) 328-1322
[email protected]

Sarasota, FL— Sarasota Opera will open its 11th fall season on October 26th with the return of Gioachino Rossini’s comic opera The Barber of Seville, last seen in 2014. Dr. Bartolo plans to marry his ward Rosina, but she has other plans for her future. Figaro, the barber, comes to the rescue and assists Rosina in sneaking, scheming, and plotting to marry her beloved Lindoro. With a comic plot and Rossini’s most recognizable melodies, The Barber of Seville is one of the most performed operas in the world. Here in Sarasota, the opera was first performed at the Historic Asolo Theater in 1963, and has been a mainstay in the repertoire over the past 60 years.

The Barber of Seville (Il barbiere di Siviglia) – Some interesting background information

  • Composer Gioachino Rossini was born on leap day 1792 in Pesaro, a small town on Italy's Adriatic coast. His parents – father Giuseppe, a trumpeter and inspector of slaughterhouses, and mother Anna, a singer and baker's daughter – started his musical training early.
  • While still a young teenager, Rossini began musical studies at the conservatory in Bologna. There he gained the nickname "the little German" for his devotion to Mozart and won a prize for a cantata that he composed.
  • In 1810 at the age of 18, Rossini had his first opera produced in Venice. Other operas soon followed, with a substantial hit at La Scala followed by triumphant premieres at different theaters in Venice. With these successes, the 21 year old Rossini became the idol of the Italian opera public.
  • In 1815, an impresario of opera houses in Naples hired Rossini as music director for the Teatro San Carlo. Rossini's responsibilities included writing operas for this theater. The contract paid well, including a cut from the impresario's popular gaming tables that were operated to help fund theatrical operations.
  • Rossini's Barber of Seville, originally titled Almaviva, ossia L'inutile precauzione (Almaviva, or the Useless Precaution),premiered on February 20, 1816 at Rome's Teatro Argentina. Rossini was only 24 years old.
  • At the time, Rossini’s 17th opera proved to be one of the great fiascoes in operatic history. Devoted fans of a rival composer hissed and jeered throughout the first performance, angry that Rossini had “lifted” his plot from their idol. The audience laughed at the under-rehearsed production that boasted several on-stage accidents, including an un-tuned guitar and a broken guitar string.
  • Following the dismal first hearing of his opera, Rossini did not attend the next. The second performance reversed the fate of Rossini's new work: it was a notable success.
  • Like many of his other operas, Rossini created Il barbiere di Siviglia quickly. Though there is disagreement to the exact length of time it took, it was definitely composed in less than a month.
  • For the famous overture (in 1959 it was arranged into Bugs Bunny’s memorable “The Rabbit of Seville”), Rossini actually borrowed melodies from his own earlier works. In spite of the speed at which he wrote, Rossini created an opera filled with grace and wit. Today, it is one of the most performed operas in the world.

Ticket Information

Subscriptions for the 2018/2019 Season are available at . Become a 4 or 5 opera subscriber to maximize the best savings on tickets and to secure the best seats.
Individual tickets start at only $19, and are available at and in the Sarasota Opera Box Office. For more information on the 2018/2019 season, contact the Sarasota Opera Box Office at (941) 328-1300 or visit in person at 61 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236. Ticket prices range from $19 - $139.

About Sarasota Opera

Sarasota Opera is celebrating its 60th Season of bringing world-class opera to Florida’s Gulf Coast. The company was launched in 1960, when a touring chamber opera company came to the historic 320-seat Asolo Theater on the grounds of Sarasota’s Ringling Museum of Art. The following year the Asolo Opera Guild was formed to present the season. By 1974 the Asolo Opera was mounting its own productions at the theater. Recognizing the need for a theater more conducive to full-scale opera, the company purchased the former A.B. Edwards Theater which in 1984 (as the Sarasota Opera House) became home to the newly renamed Sarasota Opera. The building underwent a $20 million renovation and rehabilitation in 2007 enhancing audience amenities, while updating the technical facilities, including increasing the size of the orchestra pit. The theater, which reopened in March 2008, has been called “one of America’s finest venues for opera” by Musical America.

Since 1983, the company has been under the artistic leadership of Victor DeRenzi and administrative leadership of Executive Director Richard Russell since 2012. Sarasota Opera has garnered international attention with its Masterwork Revivals Series, which presents neglected works of artistic merit, as well as the Verdi Cycle, completed in 2016, that made Sarasota Opera the only opera company in the world to present all of Verdi’s works. Recognizing the importance of training, Maestro DeRenzi founded the Apprentice and Studio Artists programs. Sarasota Opera also maintains a commitment to education through its Explorations in Opera performances for local schools and the industry-leading Sarasota Youth Opera program.

Sarasota Opera is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Programs are supported in part by an award from the Tourist Development Tax through the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and the Sarasota County Arts Council. Additional funding is provided by the City of Sarasota and the County of Sarasota.


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